CHER­RY­BROOK

Yes­ter­day, To­day and To­mor­row.

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - History - By Carmel Liddell.

Way back in colo­nial times, Cher­ry­brook was part of the Cas­tle Hill Gov­ern­ment farm, an area renowned for hav­ing soil of ‘best and most pro­duc­tive kind’.

It was there in 1838 that pioneers Joseph and Mary Ann Har­ri­son set­tled on a 65 acre block of land in­her­ited from Mary’s mother, Han­nah Rus­sell. The cou­ple built a small tim­ber cot­tage, raised thir­teen chil­dren and set about plant­ing or­chards of peach, apri­cot, pear, plum and cit­rus fruit trees. Their fond­ness for cherry trees, which were es­tab­lished by the creek at one cor­ner of their land, prompted the cou­ple to name the area, ‘Cher­ry­brook’.

With the Har­ri­son farm sur­rounded by bush­land, tim­ber-cut­ting be­came the first in­dus­try in the area. Grad­u­ally the land was cleared and dur­ing the 1850’s, more and more or­chards were es­tab­lished. By 1915 all ratepay­ers bar one, were listed as fruit grow­ers. Af­ter World War I, they also be­gan farm­ing poul­try in con­junc­tion with their fruit trees. The set­tlers, most of whom were Wes­leyans or Methodist, quickly at­tended to their so­cial and spir­i­tual needs. In 1845, they es­tab­lished a chapel and burial ground on New Line Road. The Har­risons were amongst the reg­u­lar church­go­ers and for thirty years, Joseph Har­ri­son was the chapel’s Sun­day school teacher. All was well. How­ever, the na­ture of Cher­ry­brook’s idyl­lic ru­ral land­scape, was about to change.

In the Syd­ney Re­gion Out­line Plan of 1968, Cher­ry­brook was tar­geted for ur­ban de­vel­op­ment. Within ten years of the 1978 land re­lease, twenty four thou­sand houses had been built. De­vel­oper L.J. Hooker called the first sub­di­vi­sion the Green­way Es­tate. He named its streets af­ter ar­chi­tect Fran­cis Green­way, other prom­i­nent colo­nial ar­chi­tects and pioneers. The streets in the en­su­ing land re­lease, were given names of na­tive and ex­otic flora.

Long gone is the Cher­ry­brook of 1838 but one land­mark re­mains: the Unit­ing Church Hall and burial ground on New Line Road. Apart from reg­u­lar main­te­nance to its painted brick­work, the Vic­to­rian Gothic style build­ing’s orig­i­nal fea­tures, in­clud­ing stucco slate and stained glass, have en­dured. The so­cial sig­nif­i­cance of this charm­ing prim­rose yel­low church is not for­got­ten. More­over, it is in­ex­tri­ca­bly woven into Cher­ry­brook’s his­tory - yes­ter­day, to­day and to­mor­row.

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